If you love pasta then you have probably had your dog look at you with big, sad eyes while you eat, just begging for a bite. Maybe you have leftover pasta and you have thought to yourself, “Can I give my dog pasta?” Like many human foods, the answer is a qualified yes.
Different people mean different things when they talk about pasta. For some people, pasta is strictly the various noodles made from a dough of wheat flour, water, and eggs. But as we all know, pasta noodles today can be made from many different flours and even include other ingredients. Different pasta shapes won’t bother your dog but some of the unusual ingredients might. Tomatoes, spinach, saffron, squid ink (really), beets, chocolate, and other ingredients are sometimes added to pasta dough to produce colorful – and flavorful – pasta noodles. Obviously, some of these ingredients would not be suitable for your dog to eat.
For other people, pasta can refer to the entire dish being served such as spaghetti with meat, or lasagna, or macaroni and cheese. Whether or not you can give some of these foods to your dog depends on the ingredients in the dish.
Pasta, yes or no?
As long as your dog is not allergic or sensitive to wheat, he should be able to safely eat ordinary pasta noodles such as spaghetti noodles, fettucine noodles, lasagna noodles, and macaroni noodles.
When it comes to the sauces that accompany the noodles, you are usually safer giving your dog some sauce if you have made it yourself so you know what’s in the sauce. Commercial sauces often have lots of ingredients, including preservatives, that you don’t want your dog to eat.
Sauces that are made up of plain tomato sauce, meat, and a little salt and pepper are safe to give to your dog. A tiny amount of garlic won’t hurt your dog, but it should only be a very small amount in the sauce. Do not give your dog any sauce that contains onions since they are dangerous to dogs. It’s best to avoid sauces that contain other herbs and spices.
Many pasta recipes contain lots of cheese. Dogs love cheese and good cheese won’t usually bother your dog. Keep in mind that commercial pasta dishes, such as microwave dinners, often use cultures and enzymes to make the cheese in the dish so they are not exactly like the cheese you would buy for yourself.
As mentioned, if you give your dog pasta you need to make sure he is not allergic or sensitive to wheat. Allergic reactions to wheat can include:
- Itchy, red skin
- Shaking the head
- Chronic ear infections
- Licking the front paws
- Rubbing the face
Sensitivity to wheat usually has gastrointestinal symptoms:
Some dogs do have problems with lactose intolerance. For these dogs you would need to avoid any pasta that contains cheese or milk ingredients.
You should also keep in mind that most pasta dishes contain lots of carbohydrates. If you make a habit of giving your dog pasta, he’s likely to gain weight.
Most dogs can safely eat plain pasta with a plain meat sauce. You should avoid pasta noodles made from unusual ingredients that might disagree with your dog. You should also avoid sauces that could contain any questionable ingredients – especially onions. If you notice your dog showing any symptoms of an allergic reaction or sensitivity to pasta, stop feeding the food. See your veterinarian if the symptoms don’t clear up quickly.